Visa Wars: A New Hope
Dear Praying Friends,
Many of you may have read in our last newsletter that we were hoping to be able to return to E's birth country as a family. I (S) have not been allowed in that country since 2012. Very recently, we have contacted a Christian lawyer there, "Phil", who has successfully helped others with similar visa troubles.
There are several things that Phil will do for us. First, he will seek to discover whether I am still banned or not. Second, he will find out whether my 15-year visa has been cancelled or not. Third, if the ban remains and/or my visa is cancelled, he will argue in court that those actions were unjustified and fight to get the ban removed and my visa re-instated.
Phil has won cases like ours, arguing that the government of this country has banned people on false grounds, with no evidence, and against their own laws. He can't guarantee a win, of course. That's where prayer comes in!
Please pray with us, that:
- God will grant success to Phil in his efforts on our behalf
- The courts will decide justly, according to their own laws
- I may know that I can (or can't) enter E's birth country within about a year, so that we can act accordingly before our furlough in about June 2021. It would be so much easier if we could start furlough knowing clearly which direction God is taking us.
We leave it all in God's hands. Thank you so much for your regular prayers for us and our ministry. We hope to have good news to share in future updates. Happy New Year!
Blessings in Christ,
20/20 Vision - Vision 2020
As we enter into a new year, we have our eyes clearly focused and our vision clearly set! Hebrews 12:2, says "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus".
With the help of many in 2019, we were able to revive and rebuild the mission for what it was established to do. "Make disciples, baptize them and teach them." Matthew 28:19-20. During 2019, we fed the hungry, counseled those in need, cared for the abandoned and abused, provided countless opportunities for spiritual growth amongst our church leaders and more.
Emanuel, Emmanuel, Immanuel are all spelled differently, but carry the same meaning "God With Us" Matthew 1:23 And He was certainly with us during 2019.
Today we continue to care for youth on a 24/7 basis. The Ontañon church is more focused than ever to continue to teach and disciple. Workshops and seminars are providing the help church leaders need to be the men and women that the Church of Christ needs today.
Last year is gone and now we have 365, new opportunities to grow and reach people with the message of Jesus Christ. Changes are not always welcome, but are necessary for growth. The physical work of restoring the facility continues, but our main focus is not on the material, but on the spiritual.
Work is being done to establish the Emanuel School of Missions and Ministry, inside the facility of Emanuel Mexico Mission. A survey was taken of all Church of Christ ministers in San Luis Potosi and one of the outstanding aspects of the survey showed that 75%, of the ministers have to work a full time or part time job to provide for their families and ministries.
Providing a place for them to learn, with updated resources and teachers highly capable to teach will help build better leaders and a stronger church body in San Luis Potosi. Classes will begin in August and hours will be from 6:00p.m. - 10:00 p.m., Tuesday to Friday. During the next 8 months, 3 different week long seminars will be held to introduce the subjects and materials to be given.
All the while we will continue to care for young people in need of a home under the same roof of E.M.M. Provide the counseling needed from our counseling center for the area churches and those in need. The Ontañon Church of Christ will continue to use the facility for Bible studies, worship services and youth events. What I have just outlined is a need to be filled, not a dream or a goal of anyone person or persons. For the last 30 weeks, our leadership workshops provided leaders the opportunity to simply learn and they are asking for more opportunities to grow spiritualy.
Jose continues to take on more responsibilities inside the mission, as well as his full time responsibility at the Ontañon Church of Christ and is taking the lead role in this new opportunity for a school of missions and ministry.
20/20 Vision - Vision 2020 is not a theme or a title and not to be taken lightly. It is a responsibility for both you and I to set our vision clearly on Jesus Christ. Set our focus and set our thoughts not on what was or could have been, but on what we can accomplish together for the Church of Christ today.
Our financial base is set, we now need it to grow so we can reach the inner city and beyond with the life saving message of Jesus Christ. In the coming weeks, if you would like to help buy a tire (4) for the van, restore the baptistery, repair the main roof, continue to help repair the plumbing needs, refinish the kitchen, help us provide a Sunday School class for a church in Oaxaca, provide transportation for Jose, provide funds for the teachers and staff we will have or provide for the needs of the youth living in the mission. Send your gift for a specific need or opportunity for us to maintain the facility and its ministry outreach in its best condition.
Hebrews 12:2 clearly says "Fix your eyes on Jesus", 2020, is upon us and there is no turning back the clock to 2019, Our vision is set on 2020, to be a year of new opportunities. A year where people can see that Emanuel Mexico Mission is serious about what they are doing. And what is that? "Make Disciples, baptize them and teach them." 20/20 Vision - Vision 2020 "Fix your eyes on Jesus".
Emanuel Mexico Mission
Iglesia Cristiana en Ontañon
Merry Christmas from Agapé Paris! Thank you as always for your love, prayers, and support as God changes the lives of students in Paris. I hope you enjoy the photo of the 33 students that attended our Thanksgiving event (left), as well as the photos and stories of two students (Malek, middle; Feds, right) who have accepted Jesus as their Lord this year!
A Thrill of Hope
These stories are from my teammate Emily, who wanted to share what she witnessed God do in the lives of these two students.
Malek: "Josh and I were on one of our campuses a couple weeks ago, going around doing Perspective Cards with students. We met and went through Perspective Cards with two friends, Malek and Amel. Malek could speak English well, but Amel couldn't. Malek translated most of the cards and our conversation for her friend. She was super excited to be able to do so and to talk with us about our perspectives. Even though we were running out of time, we were able to share the gospel with Malek. Our focus quickly turned to Malek as she expressed interest and desire in knowing who Jesus is. We got to share with her who is He and what He has done for us. We shared the seeker's prayer and prayer to believe, which she said expressed the desire of her heart. Then, she prayed to receive Christ!"
Prayer Requests for Malek: Please pray that Josh and I would be able to meet up with Malek and Amel soon (preferable in the beginning of January) and follow up with Malek's decision to accept Christ. Pray that Malek's decision to accept Jesus into her heart would grow into a relationship with our Lord and Savior. Pray that Malek and Amel would be about to have more conversations themselves about faith in Jesus.
Federica (Feds): "Sydney and I met Federica, or Feds on one of our campuses a couple months ago. Feds is from England and has been studying this fall in Paris. Feds had just started to take an interest in God, wanting to learn more about Him and the Bible. Over the last couple months, Sydney and I have been meeting up with Feds, having spiritual conversations and really building a relationship with her. Feds came to the conclusion that she believed in God and could see that God was working in her life. But, for a while she was not sure if she was ready to put her faith in Him. But after more consideration, she decided not to wait any longer, and to make room for Jesus in her heart and to trust Him with her life!"
Prayer Requests for Feds: Please pray that Feds could grow in her desire to make God the top priority in her life, and that she would continue to grow and learn in who God is and what it means to have a relationship with Him. Pray that she would be able to find Christ-centered community as she studies in Italy in the spring.
Once again, Merry Christmas! I'm praying for you this season-- may God bless you and fill your heart with joy and peace.
First of all we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2020. We pray that you will enjoy the celebrations as we all remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
When schools closed, we had a graduation for the nine day care children who will go to big-school next year. We also celebrated Christmas with the Magog Senior Citizens’ Club. We had a delicious meal catered by local ladies who gave our members (who usually cook for our regular meetings) a well-deserved break! We drew names and exchanged gifts and had a most enjoyable day! Now the Seniors and the day care center are in recess until mid-January.
Our family will be celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve with all 16 of us plus a couple of extras. Then on Christmas Day we will attend church and then gather with all of our family who are not involved with other family gatherings plus some extras who don’t have family nearby!
We were very pleased that two of the young people from Umzumbe Church of Christ were able to attend the first National Youth Convention right after the schools closed for the December holidays. The plan is for this Convention to be held each year in December in various places throughout the country to provide teaching and fellowship for young adults of high school and post-high school age.
Our weather has been very unusual this year. It is the rainy season here, but we had even more than usual rain plus wind. This resulted in severely damaged roads, branches blowing down and a damaged roof at Umzumbe Bible Institute. In addition we have had some unseasonably cool weather so we have to keep sweaters or jackets close at hand. Over the past few days it has warmed up quite a lot, but the wind has continued.
We will be thinking of you and praying for you as you celebrate Christmas and we would ask you to pray for us as well.